The Poetics of Distortion

The panoramic photograph distorts space, re-making our perceptions–and our memory–of familiar places. For Tom Schiff’s monograph of San Francisco panoramas, we curated the portfolio into 9 sections, each a meditation on how the panorama’s warp captures a certain shared truth within each type of public space.[+]

MD carried the concept of the 360-degree panorama throughout the entire book’s design, wrapping titles and images off the spreads and back around again. The mechanics and the effects of the panoramic camera are expressed through a series of diagrams. These images reveal how infinite space is wrapped into a cylinder, and then flattened again into a 2D distortion, all through the vertiginous optics of the equirectangular projection.

The book leads readers through a visual feast of the travel-worn places of the Bay Area, offering unexpectedly fresh perspectives on the familiar. The entire project uses distortion as a filter through which to see more clearly.

Robert Couto